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City Scene: Emergency preparedness is high priority for Folsom

By: Kerry Miller, Folsom City Manager
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The recent devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan are grim reminders of the crucial importance of advance individual and community preparation for disasters and emergencies that could strike any community. Emergency preparedness is a high priority for Folsom’s City Council, management team and public safety staff. While a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami are unlikely, serious fires and floods are in the realm of possibility. We have taken many proactive steps to protect our community should a disaster occur. Folsom has a comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan that provides guidance for every foreseeable type of emergency and natural disaster that could befall our community. We also have a dedicated Emergency Operations Center, one of only three in the Sacramento region, to help coordinate resources and serve as a focal operations point during an emergency. City staff participates in emergency exercises to ensure our readiness to respond, and we work closely with neighboring jurisdictions to coordinate efforts. As happened in Japan, disasters may strike with little or no warning. The possibility of forced evacuations from our homes, schools or places of employment is real. We might also face the loss of basic services such as water, gas, electricity or telephone for a period of several days or more. While our outstanding public safety staff will, of course, be on the scene of any disaster, we must accept the reality that that they will not be able to reach every citizen immediately. All of us should make basic family emergency preparedness plans and take precautions to ensure the safety of our loved ones. There are many resources readily available to assist anyone seeking guidance on preparing emergency kits and developing family action plans. I suggest you check out ready.gov and the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) website at oes.ca.gov. These sites offer recommendations for preparing disaster supply kits with water, food and basic supplies for your family during the first three days of a disaster. The sites also recommend that you designate an out-of-the-area contact person in case your family is separated, and consider the special needs of children, seniors and people with disabilities. Additional preparation tips include ensuring that every family member knows where the main gas line is and how to shut it off, as well as the location and proper use of a fire extinguisher. The city offers Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training classes to train residents to help others in the community. The eight-week program teaches basic fire suppression, light search and rescue and first aid. Information about upcoming classes is posted on the Fire Department’s page of the city’s website at folsom.ca.us. Your city government works hard to be ready for any type of emergency. We encourage you to take simple action steps to do your part in ensuring the safety of your family, friends and neighbors. I welcome your comments at kmiller@folsom.ca.us. Kerry Miller is the city manager of Folsom. His column publishes the last Wednesday of every month.